The Toronto Blue Jays are red-hot and have turned a 27-36 disappointing season into a 37-36 juggernaut on the strength of their current 10-game winning streak. The story lines for such a turnaround are fast and furious, but let’s look at one of the Jays who is (perhaps surprisingly) contributing to their recent success.
Just over two weeks ago, Chien-Ming Wang felt that his days in the New York Yankees minors were not leading to an opportunity to rejoin the team on the MLB stage, so he opted out of his minor league contract and joined the pitching-starved Jays, who had seen their pitchers get ravaged with the injury bug for the second straight season.
At this time, the Jays were 26-34 and seven games out of fourth place. Not seven games out of a playoff spot, seven games from just being able to get out of last place. Yikes.
Two weeks later, and the Jays are just 6.5 games out of first place, and could be even better by days end as the AL East-leading Boston Red Sox do not play until Saturday night). Wang has surely contributed to this success by providing solid starts like fans hoped the veteran would.
In his three starts for the Jays, the team has gone 3-0 (including today’s 4-2 matinee win over the Baltimore Orioles) and his stats are impressive with 20.2 innings pitched, 19 hits and six earned runs. Even more impressive is the fact that five of those six runs came in his first four innings, so in the last 16.2 IP for the Jays, he has allowed a measly one run.
The veteran has shut down powerful offenses like the O’s and the Texas Rangers with his veteran know-how. He is mixing pitches, mixing speeds, and mixing locations very well. Today was his first game in front of the home fans, and with the added fans from the Asian community who came out in to watch him this guy is giving goodness on the field and is contributing to rejuvenating the great atmosphere at Rogers Centre. Win-win.
The last time Wang was relevant at the MLB level was back in 2008, and the last time he was pitching as well as he is now was back in 2007. The last time the Jays were relevant was 1993. Both seem to be back at elite MLB levels, and this country is on fire as a result. The horrid start to the season was a massive bummer for most Jays fans, but Wang is one of the players bringing the hope back as the 2013 Jays appear to be in flight.